In the foothills of the Italian Alps, around 80 kilometres northeast of Turin, lies the province of Biella. This small Piedmont province, whose capital also shares the same name, has been Italy’s major production centre for fine wool and cashmere products since the middle of the 13th century.
With its fertile mountain pastures making it an ideal environment for sheep farming, plus an inexhaustible supply of crystal clear mountain water to power the mills and wash the fleeces, the area is steeped in textile history with strong links to the early foundation of the Italian woolworkers´ and weavers´ guilds.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the area also became known for its production of high quality silk, however with the introduction of mechanical looms in the mid 1800´s, heralding the beginning of factory automation, silk production ceased and the focus on tradition wool based textile production returned.
In fact, Biella´s mill owners were so keen to welcome new technology to their manufacturing processes that the area became synonymously linked with machine innovation and advanced manufacturing solutions.
And today, locally based companies such as Achille Burocco Inoxvalve have continued to follow this path with a focus on innovative product development and expansion into new markets to ensure their business success.
The company which was founded in 1954, by the current Managing Director, Mr Achille Burocco, who still continues to play an active role in the business today, have expanded their sales to both Italian and European customers.
Burocco, said “We have always specialised in the production of customised products and right from when we first started in the fifties we were always looking to find new ways or new materials to help our textile producing customers. For example, back then we even patented a range of valves made from Teflon, a very expensive material which was almost unknown at the time. Using Teflon meant that the valves could be sealed hermetically to control the fluid thereby overcoming metal wear and liquid contamination previously encountered in the tap joint”, he continued.
“From that day on, we have continued to find winning solutions for the mechanical textile market including developing a fully automated finishing and dyeing process” he explained.
However in the late 1990´s, with the flood of imported cheap fabric and low priced clothes from China, Europe’s textile industry changed for ever. Sadly the effects of this economic competition resulted in the closure of many wool mills in Europe and especially many of those in the Biella area.
But, for Achille Burocco the nineties also saw a period of real change, following the acquisition of a small engineering company who were specialist regulator valve manufacturers.
Now, with another string to their engineering bow, Burocco used this investment and its newly acquired technical knowledge to develop specialist valves to help gain entry to other industrial markets including both the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors.
Achille Burocco confirmed, “From day one, our company strengths have always been service, quality and speed of response. These combined with flexibility, precision and prompt delivery, the other core attributes close to our organization’s heart, has helped us grow into the company we are today”.
Over the last 10 years, Achilles Burocco has continued to invest heavily in product development which means that today they can offer customers a comprehensive range of stainless steel valves plus an extensive range of pneumatic and electro pneumatic control valves.
“Our portfolio of products has dramatically increased during the last decade and whilst we have not abandoned our roots, and still continue to support the textile industry, this enlarged product offering has enabled us to work in a variety of new sectors. Today we are extremely active in the chemical, medical and food industries and our high quality products are used extensively in the field of cryogenic processes”, said Burocco´s Quality, Sales and Technical Manger, Gianluca Ottinetti.
Currently Burocco´s standard product offering includes
a range of intercepting valves which have been designed with a
unique body shape that permits the fluid to flow with very little
loss of load, a range of easy- to-maintain modular designed ball
valves and an extensive selection of control valves.
Ottinetti continued “The constant demand for increased factory automation and the need for more sophisticated controls have meant that in many applications the valves need to be fully integrated and interactive with a machine’s control panel. Our new Series 3000 range of stainless steel pneumatic/electric micro-valves, which took around 3 years to develop, are a good example of the high performance levels which are required by valves today”.
However, unlike some of their competitors, the one thing that has remained constant at Burocco throughout its 56 years of operation is that both product design and product development are firmly in the hands of the company’s team of excellent technical experts.
“When it comes to components such as regulators, controllers and calibrators, then obviously we purchase these from selected external suppliers depending on our technical needs”, explains Mr Burocco.
“For example, when one of our customers asked us to design and build some electro pneumatic valves, which needed to meet some challenging technical specifications, they also requested that any non Burocco components used in our designs be supported internationally. Fortunately for us, this request resulted in the start of a close working relationship with SMC, the worldwide leading experts in pneumatics. Not only do they have subsidiaries and sales offices all over the world that can support our end users but they are also an organization which shares our passion for high quality product innovation. Today, nearly twelve years later, our working relationship remains stronger than ever.” he continued.
SMC´s Process Control expert, Sebastian Agnello is quick to confirm this fact. “SMC and Burocco share many of the same business values with product quality and customer care given a top priority. Having worked with Burocco for many years we have developed an outstanding business partnership and have a good understanding of what they need now and what they will probably need in the future”.
He continued, “As the world’s leading experts in
pneumatics, our knowledge of industrial automation is
extensive and this combined with the financial strength to support a global team of over 1.300 R&D engineers means that like them we are focused on product innovation. Recently we have supplied Burocco with our latest “smart” electro pneumatic positioner, Series 8101, which we believe will help them substantially increase their control valve sales in Europe this year”, Agnello concluded.
With over half a century of trading experience, Achille Burocco remain confident that with a continued focus on product development and innovation they will continue to build on the company’s strong foundations.
Finally, MD Achille Burocco added “Over a decade ago, when the European textile industry went into decline, our policy of product development gave us the opportunity to enter new markets and meant that we managed to weather the economic storm. And, following last year’s global economic recession, thanks to this business approach, we continued to trade strongly and, without the need to make any staff redundancies. Whilst our customers in the textile industry are very important to us, our business focus has, and will continue to widen thanks to the development of innovative new products and especially with the help and technical support of key partner suppliers such as SMC.”